The premise of One Day - two friends meeting, or not, on the same day every year over a 20 year period - is such an intriguing one that it's unfortunate that its execution on film, adapted from David Nicholls' novel, is not. And doubly disappointing given the involvement of Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess, and director Lone Sherfig.
On the night of their university graduation, July 15 1988, Emma (Hathaway) and Dexter (Sturgess), by default rather than design, spend the night together. But by the time they make it to bed, the alcohol has warn off and the moment has passed, and the two decide they'll just be friends.
One Day then proceeds in its episodic nature of dropping in on the lives of Emma and Dexter on the same date every year: sometimes they are together, sometimes not. Dexter, who comes from money, is often on holiday in foreign locales, and later enjoying the spoils of his career as a TV celebrity. Emma, on the other hand, spends her first few years out of college working in a taco restaurant and dating a wannabe comedian, before commencing a teaching career, all the while transforming from geeky duckling to beautiful swan.
Hathaway and Sturgess are both appealing actors, but one of the major problems with the film is that Dexter is, for the most part, thoroughly unlikeable which makes Emma's devotion to him, which borders on doormat, both odd and unsympathetic.
And quibble though it may be, Hathaway's English accent is a distraction: which part of England is she from? Indeed we never learn anything of Emma's background, or meet any of her family, though we do meet Dexter's parents (played by Patricia Clarkson and Ken Stott), who are less than impressed with their son's directionless life.
Lone Scherfig's previous film was the wonderful An Education, a film readers of this blog will know I absolutely adore. Based on a memoir by Lynn Barber, An Education was adapted for the screen by novelist Nick Hornby who had the advantage of objectivity and no compunction about what to keep and what to cut.
One Day was adapted by Nicholls from his own novel, which I haven't read, but I'd suggest in his role as screenwriter he didn't have the necessary objectivity; less inclined to make major changes to his text and committing that fatal mistake of thinking everything that works on the page will work on screen.
It doesn't, and fans of the book, a New York Times bestseller, may not be as enamoured with One Day in its cinematic incarnation, making for a not-so memorable date (film).